Hand Hygiene, Truths, Myths and Misinformation

There are many misconceptions about hand hygiene on the Internet. Hopefully, this information will help clear up some of those misconceptions.Washing your hands with soap and water will kill germs.

Truth or misinformation?

Misinformation

1. Plain soaps have minimal if any antimicrobial activity.
2. In several studies, hand washing with plain soap failed to remove bad microorganisms (pathogens) from the hands of hospital personnel.
3. Hand washing with plain soap can result in an increase in bacterial counts on the skin.
4. Occasionally, contaminated plain soaps have colonized hands with Gram-negative bacteria.

Reference: http: www.learnwell.org//handhygiene.htm

Killing germs on your hands decreases your immunity.

Truth or Myth?

Myth

1. The skin on your body is covered with microorganisms.
2. Our environment is contaminated with microorganisms.
3. You cannot kill all of the microorganisms on your hands.
4. Your large intestine contains large numbers of microorganisms.
5. All of the sources listed above stimulate your immune response.
6. Health Care Workers CDC guidelines call for alcohol rubs to be used 60 or more times a day between patients and after touching contaminated surfaces.
7. Killing germs on your hands will not decrease your immunity but it will help prevent infections.

Reference: http: www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm

Hand sanitizers do not kill germs.

Truth or misinformation?

Misinformation

1. Hand sanitizers containing a minimum of 60 to 95% alcohol are very efficient germ killers.
2. Alcohol rub sanitizers kill bacteria, multi-drug resistant bacteria (MRSA and VRE) tuberculosis, virus, including HIV, herpes, RSV, rhinovirus, vaccinia, influenza, hepatitis, and fungus.
3. Alcohol rub sanitizers kill 3.5 log(10) (99.9%) of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 4 to 5 log(10) (99.99 to 99.999%) of the bacteria on hands 1 minute after application.
4. Alcohol rub sanitizers can prevent the transfer of health-care associated pathogens (Gram negative bacteria) better than soap and water.
5. Alcohol rub sanitizers are not appropriate for use when your hands are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood. Use soap and water.

Reference: www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm

Don’t kill the good germs. They protect our hands from the bad germs.

Truth or Myth?

Myth

1. Good germs are microorganisms normally found on human skin and bad germs are pathogenic (disease producing) microorganisms.
2. The numbers of good germs and bad germs on the hands are variable from one person to the next but remains relatively constant for each individual.
3. Good germs cannot protect you against bad germs. Anyone can become contaminated with bad germs (pathogens).
4. Bad germs (pathogens) do not always cause infections and good germs in the wrong place can cause infections.

References www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm Schaberg DR, Culver DH, Gaynes RP. Major trends in the microbial etiology of nosocomial infection. Am J Med 1991;91(suppl 3B):72S-75S. Richet P, Hubert B, Nitemberg G, et al. Prospective multi-center study of vascular-catheter-related complications and risk factors for positive central-catheter cultures in intensive care unit patients. J Clin Microbiol 1990;28:2520-2525.

Alcohol dries your hands.

Truth or misinformation?

Truth

1. Frequent use of alcohol-based formulations for hand antisepsis can cause dry skin unless emollients and/or skin moisturizers are added to the formula.
2. The drying effect of alcohol can be reduced or eliminated by adding glycerin and/or other emollients to the formula.
3. In several prospective clinical trials, alcohol based hand sanitizers containing emollients caused substantially less skin irritation and dryness than soaps or antimicrobial detergents.
4. Allergic contact dermatitis or contact urticaria syndrome or hypersensitivity to alcohol or additives present in alcohol hand rubs rarely occurs.

Reference: www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm

Alcohol rubs cause (bacterial) mutation and resistance.

Truth or Myth?

Myth

1. Dead microorganisms don’t mutate. Alcohol rubs (biocides) kill microorganisms.
2. Current scientific evidence has not shown a link exists between the use of topical antimicrobial formulations and antiseptic or antibiotic resistance.
3. Antiseptics (biocides) have multiple (thousands) of nonspecific killing sites on and in the microbial cell which cannot easily mutate.
4. Antibiotics and antibacterial soaps (triclosan) have one very specific killing site on and in the microbial cell which can easily mutate.
5. Antibiotic resistance has no affect on the effectiveness of (biocides) antiseptics.

References: Jones R.D. Bacterial resistance and topical antimicrobial wash products. Am. J. Infect. 1999 Aug: 27(4):351-63. Barry A.L., Fuchs, P.C., Brown, S.D. Lack of Effect of Antibiotic Resistance on Susceptibility of Microorganisms to Chlorhexidine gluconate and Povidone iodine. Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Inf. Dis. 1999, 18: 920-921.

Alcohol rubs and Germ Out® kill germs better than soap and water.

Truth or misinformation?

Truth

1. Use Germ Out® or alcohol rubs to kill germs on your hands.

2. Use soap and water on visibly dirty or soiled hands.

Reference: www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm

For more information on hand hygiene visit www.germout.com


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81 thoughts on “Hand Hygiene, Truths, Myths and Misinformation”

  1. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with
    the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  2. So why bother?????????????

    I mean I can see it if you work in a hospital after you handle patients, but for the regular civilian, what’s the point if we always have microorganisms.all over us?

    Killing germs on your hands decreases your immunity.

    Truth or Myth?

    Myth

    1. The skin on your body is covered with microorganisms.
    2. Our environment is contaminated with microorganisms.
    3. You cannot kill all of the microorganisms on your hands.

    Read more at https://scienceblog.com/10882/hand-hygiene-truths-myths-and-misinformation/#mg42p0ExwHQ5gKa5.99

    Reply
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  5. Thanks JsHibbard for your patience and brilliant, yet simple to understand, replies to the paranoid alarmist germaphobic “anonymous” posts. I’d remain anonymous too if I were him/her.

    I love hand sanitizer!!!

    Reply
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    Reply
  7. “The use of hand sanitizers and antiseptics will have no effect on our immune systems or our response to germs.”

    Try to watch out for such uses of absolutes. You cannot be 100% certain of anything. I would expect that from someone in marketing not medicine.

    Language is important.

    Your intentions might be good trying to bring a better product into an environment where many companies have likely done the bare minimum in order to increase their profits, but in many places you come off as simply trying to sell a product which to me makes you seem biased and untrustworthy.

    Reply
  8. The cheapest most effective hand sanitizer is boiling water. Please submerge your hands in a large pot of boiling water up to the elbow and leave them there for 10 minutes. Repeat this process every hour on the hour, and your hands will remain relatively sterile. In a pinch, open flame can be used. Place whole forearm into open flame for 5 minutes. Rotate arms/hands to get as even coverage as possible in the flames. Remember, if the flesh begins to bubble and sizzle, that is good. You are killing pathogens! If you have access to enriched plutonium, there are alternate methods of sterilizing your skin, but that is another discussion for another time.

    Remember that pathogens readily populate your face as well, so be sure to regularly submerge your entire head in boiling water, or of course, an open flame, as described above.

    Reply
  9. Is it harmful to use expired sanitizer? I know some products have an expiration date because they are required. But the product is still good after the expiration date. So is sanitizer the same?
    Thanks

    Reply
  10. i think you should just give it puppy chow/food. give it lots of toys to chew on, soft treats work best…. and make sure all of your cords are put up on rapped up becasue it would not be good if they got those… i would also recomend a lot of newspaper.

    Reply
  11. NOBODY LISTEN TO THIS LOOSER! HE IS A TOTAL FAKE AND HIS SITES AREN’T EVEN REAL! IF YOU LISTEN TO HIM, YOU WILL GET ALL KINDS OF DISEASES. HES PROBABLY ALL READY DEAD BECAUSE OF NOT WASHING HANDS! FAREWELL LOOSERS!

    Reply
  12. You know what? I think that your the fake! First of all your researches are atleast 4 years outdated, and your supposedly “informational” sites well I tried to see if it was the truth, and the sites didn’t even exist. I think you ARE A FAKE and nobody should listen to this guide. GOOD LUCK GETTING AIDS AND ALL THE OTHER DISEASES!

    Reply
  13. In your home, there’s no reason to use soaps that kill germs. The surfactants, not disinfectants, are what pick up bacteria and dirt. The simplest soaps will do the job. It’s purely mechanical action from the soap bubbles. For hospital personnel and doctors it’s a different matter.

    Reply
  14. Whatever about the truth and misinformation, you do yourselves no favours in the way you lay out your information, particularly at the start.

    What you want me to understand as fact, you present as a list of four things that are misinformation. On the other hand when you write ‘Washing your hands with soap and water will kill germs’ it is a statement of fact, which is the opposite of what you intended.

    That’s all.

    Reply
  15. 3. Alcohol rub sanitizers kill 3.5 log(10) (99.9%) of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 4 to 5 log(10) (99.99 to 99.999%) of the bacteria on hands 1 minute after application.
    4. Alcohol rub sanitizers can prevent the transfer of health-care associated pathogens (Gram negative bacteria) better than soap and water.

    They are getting even better.

    Reply
  16. Dr J Hibbard,
    i was wondering how can you be sure that an antiseptic has killed all the bacteria? This is for a science prac, and after thorough searching, can’t find something to answer this question.

    Reply
  17. Truth – References from 1999 completely ignore the significant advances in non-alcohol based hand and skin sanitizers. Products like MicroArmor are as effective as alcohol across a broader spectrum of viruses, bacteria and fungi. They are significantly safer and improve the condition of the skin as opposed to drying it out. Non-compliance with use of alcohol based hand sanitizers is a significant problem and specifically associated with the negative effect they have on hands due to long term use. School systems are moving away from alcohol based sanitizers as fast as possible due to safety issues – flammable and ingestion.

    Reply

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